Source: M-Files Back Office (Evergreen)
For those who are just starting their journey toward the thought of becoming a “paper-less” office, there are a lot of things to consider. While many may think of scanning documents as a simple process, it can be a challenging effort or become overwhelming if you don’t have a full grasp on what it takes to get that sheet of paper into your computer.
Many businesses begin the document conversion process thinking – “If I scan this file, I will be able to find it later on electronically, thus creating business efficiencies”. Considering the processes to make this happen, they think it is as simple as going to one of the box stores and purchasing a low-cost scanner or even better, just utilizing the MFC that already exists in the office. However, with over 10 Years of experience in helping clients with their document scanning and conversion efforts, suffice it to say that we have seen projects started by in-house teams go less than well.
Please indulge us as we share with you some of the Most Common Mistakes that we have seen businesses make when starting a document scanning effort and provide you with some insights on how you can avoid them:
It is common to not include the entire team in the effort. Make sure the major stakeholders are involved from the infant stages of the project and engage as many non-stakeholders as possible for input and feedback. Understanding often fosters acceptance, thus adding to the effectiveness of the project.
Fear of Change
Too many organizations are close minded when it comes to re-engineering their processes, falling back on the way they’ve done things in the past. The best strategy for helping your staff overcome their fear of change is to get them involved early in the process and let them see the technology run firsthand. Once they understand the technology and how it WILL make their life easier, they’ll recognize the impact it will have on business efficiency and their personal productivity.
Make sure you have the right size tool to do the job.
There are a lot of numbers that get circulated around in scanner spec sheets, but somehow the one that most people seem to pay the most attention to is speed. For most document imaging applications, scanner speed is going to be important to the overall efficiency, but it really is just one of the things you should consider when selecting a document scanner. When you purchase a scanner for your office, you want to make sure you consider the volume of documents that you plan on scanning. In fact, you want to outfit your business with the proper size scanner for your specific needs. Therefore, investing in a properly sized scanner is indeed a great solution that will alleviate a ton of issues later.
To make the right decisions, you’ll need to consider the amount of work that you’re trying to accomplish and make sure that the scanner has not only the appropriate speed capabilities, but also that it handles the daily volume and has the image enhancement technology that the project calls for.
Because there are big price differences between buying a scanner to help address a backfile conversion and a day-forward project, it will often make sense to outsource the high-volume scanning work to a Document Scanning and Conversion Service company. This will enable you to purchase a scanner that will address your ongoing needs and save you thousands of dollars on equipment. At the same time, you’ll also benefit from reduced labor costs by paying a flat price per image instead of paying scanning temps or training your own staff to get up to speed.
Relying on OCR as the main source of document search
It might be more accurate to call refer to this as the “PDF Syndrome.” The full-text PDF has done such a great job of convincing users that any and every document can be found based on the words within the pages that proper indexing has become an oversight for far too many companies. We’ve seen many new technologies for classifying content and automated indexing of scanned pages, but for effective document management, there is not a bigger mistake then relying OCR technology as your only reference point to documents. OCR is a fantastic technology, but it’s not 100% accurate.
When you’re capturing business documents, you need to be sure that you’re able to not only find ONE document that meets your search criteria, but very often you need to find ALL the documents relating to a specific client/customer/patient/transaction. OCR (or Optical Character Recognition) cannot provide you with the accuracy to ensure that this is going to be the case on a consistent basis. Keep in mind that 90% accuracy will only get you 9 out of 10 Digits in a Social Security Number, meaning that you won’t be able to find the right document a fair percentage of the time.
Instead, you must rely on a combination of tools and methods to be sure that you can find the documents that you’re looking for, when you need them. These tried and true methods are the only sure bet to locating documents when you need them later. An even better source is the use of a Document/Information Management System.
Manually keying all index data
The idea of tagging all your documents with index information, or keywords, may seem like a daunting task. If you are scanning medical records, for example, you may want to tag all your files with a name, patient ID Number, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, etc. If you consider the number of keystrokes that it would take to attach this data to all your document, it probably seems like it would take less time to just keep the paper in a folder and not scan it at all. It doesn’t have to be this hard!
Not capturing useful index information
When you start scanning files, it’s critical that you make sure that you attach meaningful data to the documents being scanned! Each time that you start a scanning project, you need to consider the ways that you may want to get back to that file at some time in the future, so be sure to attach data that is going to be relevant both now and in the future.
Not Properly Vetting Your Document Scanning Provider
Not all document scanning service providers are the same. The firm you choose should be a partner, guiding you throughout the entire lifecycle of your scanning needs. Before signing an agreement, make sure to ask plenty of questions about the provider’s services, practices, protocols and past clients.
Setting Up for Success
Document scanning can help your business become more productive and give it a competitive edge. Scanning a large volume of records can be daunting for any business, especially if your company doesn’t have the experience or resources.
Before embarking on your digital transformation journey, take time to plan and understand the numerous factors involved. Avoiding these common document scanning mistakes can help set your business up for success.
If you are reading this and live in Florida, then you are very much aware that on June 1, we officially will kick-off the 2019 Hurricane Season. According to The Weather Channel the 2019 Hurricane Season is expected to slightly above average. While they can predict (tounge-in-cheek) the amount of hurricanes that will dance around the Atlantic, what they are unable to predict with 100% certanitiy is where will a storm make landfall,
Are you prepared or are you making preparations in the unlikely case that a storm dances your way? From natural disasters like hurricanes to common issues such as robbery and hardware failures, your business may be particularly vulnerable during a time of crisis. While a catastrophic disaster may easily destroy a business in seconds, most business owners are unprepared for even common events, such as flooding or fires. Ensuring that your business is protected when an emergency strikes is a wise investment that is essential to the long term success of your company.
Disaster planning should be highly detailed, and business owners/managers should take extra time to review the plan to ensure they’re not forgetting important aspects of protecting their companies. A number of online disaster prep resources are available from federal and state government agencies, and some include checklists that will help owners/managers decide what they need to do.
The sites include:
- Prepare My Business , sponsored by the Small Business Administration
- Ready.gov, operated by the Department of Homeland Security
- Hurricane Preparedness Cchecklist, provided by SCORE, the organization that provides free counseling for small businesses
- Protect Your Business from All Natural Hazards, by the Federal Emergency Management Agency
Protect Your Employees
The most important measure a business owner can take during a time of crisis is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the employees. Your business should have an emergency plan that will provide protection for every employee, visitor and client in the event of a sudden calamity. The emergency plan should make provisions for severe-weather sheltering, an evacuation or a lock-down in the event of an act of violence. Having an emergency plan in place will not only help you keep yourself and your employees safe, but will enable your business to recover from a crisis more quickly.
Have A Plan
A second measure that you should take as a business owner to ensure the survival of the business through a natural disaster is to familiarize yourself with your insurance policies. Review the fine print of your property insurance policy and your business interruption insurance. Make sure your policies still provide sufficient coverage, especially if your business has experienced growth. In addition to this, your business should also have an alternate work site and backup suppliers and vendors in the event that a natural disaster should affect the efficiency of your primary providers.
Back Up Important Data
Finally, having a digital backup of your company’s important data is essential in ensuring the survival of your business through a natural disaster. All critical data, including accounting records, customer lists, inventory records and employee data, should be stored and maintained by an online backup service provider. Ensuring that all of your critical company information has been scanned and is stored off-site is essential to your company’s ability to endure through a catastrophe such as a fire or a flood.
If your business does not have a contingency plan in place, create one today. Preparing your employees and your business for a crisis is essential to ensuring that your business will survive a disaster.
Electronic document management saves time, saves money and saves the environment. In today’s technology driven enfironment, an effective electronic document management solution should be an important part of every organization regardless of the industry.
As long as there are documents around, organizations will utilize all the ways to effectively manage them. In many industries, using paper files has become inefficient. The document management process has become digitized, making all documents immediately accessible to more than just a few people.
Securing paper files requires locked filing cabinets, sign-out sheets and security protocols to ensure the safety of documents. These methods proved not only ineffective, but time-consuming as well.
Another advantage of having an electronic document management solution is more free space. All the space that file cabinets full of paper documents take up can be repurposed into more work space or allow the company the ability to downsize the office.
Paper-based work environments leads to workers losing six or more hours searching for documents every week. Whereas, those who work in digitally-based environments wasted virtually no time searching for documents.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, finding a lost document will cost a company $122 on average. It is also estimated that 7.5% of all company documents are lost completely. Let’s assume your company works with 10,000 documents – an extremely light figure. That would mean, about 750 of those documents are doomed to be lost, ultimately costing your company around $91,500. Plus, if you had to recreate any lost documents, the time and supplies involved would make that number jump well over the $100,000 mark.
- Be organized. Communicate to your scanning vendor how you access your files now. The lookup process can be made more efficient as the documents are digitized. The first conversation should be about finding documents and accessing the information you need in your documents once they’ve been scanned.
- Make sure files are “index ready.” Make it easy for your vendor to find and identify the key indexing data inside the documents. If you’re not sure what this means for your particular records, this will be the second topic of conversation.
- Sort your documents. You can pay the vendor to do record analysis for you, but typically you can do this step for less money.
- Surrender the mess. Sometimes getting organized requires scanning everything first. In these complex cases, doing the imaging first may be the only answer. For example, if you have to touch every paper and do thousands of refiles before sending your records for scanning, it’s probably cheaper to do that work once the records are electronic.
- Scan only current or active files. If you have to keep it for regulatory reasons, but likely don’t ever need to access the record, don’t scan it. We can store it for a lot less money. You just want to scan the documents you’re most likely to retrieve later.
- Scan newest documents first. The newest docs are always the most active. By scanning them first, we save you the most labor. We may quickly reach a point where we realize we can stop scanning the historical records, as there have been NO requests for them.
- Outsource when you lack the right equipment or skills. High-speed equipment and staff that’s experienced in records management can get the job done faster and for less money. Temps and college-aged relatives could drag the job out until the money is all gone or worse, render the whole effort useless if you can’t access the documents digitally later the way you hoped. It takes years of honing processes to get to the point of very low defects in imaging. We are already there. Save your bucks by outsourcing scanning.
Why should we consider scanning our files?
There are several reasons businesses consider scanning their files; including:
- Space; paper filing systems take up a considerable amount of office space, space that could be better used by productive employees.
- Disaster Recovery Planning; no one likes to think about the worst case scenarios, but those who do are the ones who end up on top. Imagine a fire or flood happened in your office and you lost all your paper files tomorrow. What would that mean for your business? Scanned documents can easily be backed up and recovered from multiple locations with speed and ease.
- Productivity; employees spend about 40% of their time looking for information they need to make decisions. Searching through paper files is, to say the least, time consuming and unproductive. With document scanning your staff can find the information they need in a matter of seconds.
Are scanned/digital documents legal?
Scanned documents are widely accepted throughout the legal system. However, we are not lawyers and we cannot give you legal advice. The only person who can truly answer this question for you is your legal counsel.
Why should we outsource our document scanning as opposed to doing it internally?
Document scanning in high volumes is an extremely laborious process. To be done properly you need people, lots of people! Aside from staff, you’ll also need high volume scanners to capture the documents, software systems for indexing and controls in place to QC the scanned documents to make sure everything meets the quality standards set forth by the organization. To achieve efficient throughput the capital required for the technology alone can easily exceed $50,000 not including the hiring, training and management of staff.
Companies who offer document scanning as a service have these elements in place and operate similar to a manufacturing assembly line, ensuring your work is done quickly and accurately; allowing you to focus on your core business.
If we outsource our document scanning, what should we look for from a security perspective?
If you decide to outsource your document scanning you should perform your due diligence early on in the process. You need to evaluate the vendor’s security and process to ensure it aligns with your expectations. A few examples of things to look for include:
- Physical Security: Is the building physically secure or can people simply walk into production/paper handling areas? Are there cameras, window bars, secured doors and security escorts onsite?
- Employee Security: Have all employees undergone a criminal background check? Have they received customized training on the security and protection of sensitive/private information?
- Government Clearance: Look for companies with specialized government security clearances. These designations are not easy to obtain and it helps to identify companies who meet strict government security protocols.
- Most Importantly: Do you feel comfortable with them? Is everything handled by their staff or are parts of your project outsourced to third parties?
How much will it cost to outsource our document scanning?
Now that’s a tricky one. While the heart of the document scanning process doesn’t change much, the output requirements of the clients certainly can. Elements such as document preparation, number of index fields, frequency of pick-up’s, etc. all play into the final price.
Reach out to a company that specializes in document scanning and converison for consultaion to see if the time is right for your organization to outsource your document scanning and conversion processes.
Small businesses today are inundated with information—including content created internally as well as documents and files received from customers, partners and suppliers. Without an information management framework, time is wasted searching through file folders and various business systems for business-critical documents. This is often compounded by the proliferation of multiple versions of the same file, which results in errors and repeated work.
When it comes to managing vast amounts of information—such as proposals, plans and contracts, product and inventory catalogues, order forms, invoices and receipts, building plans, support tickets and personnel records— small businesses simply cannot operate at maximum efficiency without the ability to easily search, share and protect their critical files and documents.
In addition to the sheer volume of files being produced by a variety of sources, today’s “content chaos” challenge is further compounded by the fact that the data typically resides across an increasingly complex landscape of applications, network folders and devices. Dedicated or “best of breed” information management solutions abound, adding to the complexity because of their limitations, instead of alleviating it on an organization-wide scale. The ability to effectively manage and harness business-critical information at any time and from anywhere—using a single, centralized system—is essential not only to day-to-day operations, but also for long-term growth and small business success.
Simply put, empowering employees to quickly and easily locate the exact content they need, regardless of which business application it resides in, leads to better decisions, faster results and improved collaboration. When small businesses can ensure that the right content is in the right hands at the right time, they can focus on using information to drive growth, value and innovation.
Small businesses have more agility to respond to changes in the market, but doing so effectively requires fast employee access to business information, along with the ability to automate manual business processes.
While dedicated or “best of breed” solutions can address this challenge department by department, they are limited in scope. Only EIM has the capacity to provide a single, centralized solution that serves as a cross-departmental workhorse that benefits the entire organization.
EIM supports the information management and expedited workflow automation needs that are critical to ensuring quality and consistent levels of service as the company grows. With the ability to organize, search and manage the vast universe of business information, businesses can streamline workflows and create efficiencies across accounting, HR, legal, and customer service teams, improving the speed at which business is conducted, as well as the end customer’s experience.
A major threat to Companies
M-Files surveyed hundreds of professionals and found that many employees use personal file sharing and sync solutions for storing and sharing confidential company information.
Alarmingly only 30% of companies have policies in place that prohibit personal file sharing reducing the risk of data loss and non compliance.
To find out more about the risks of personal file sharing click below to download the Infographic.